National Statement on International Ministerial Conference on Syria (Brussels VI)


10 May 2022 (check against delivery)

Speech by State Secretary Jenny Ohlsson.


It is a real pleasure to be here and to see so many colleagues present. I particularly want to acknowledge friends and partners from Syria’s neighbouring countries, who continue to demonstrate enormous generosity in hosting millions of refugees from Syria Your perspectives on the crisis and the way forward is extremely valuable.

Like many others, I come to today’s conference with a heightened sense of worry: despite a military stalemate on the ground, the number of Syrians in need continues to rise. At the same time, the world’s attention is turning elsewhere, and we face a real risk that there will be fewer resources at our disposal to face a growing and ever-more complex crisis.

Against this backdrop, I am glad to report that Sweden’s initial pledge for the 2022 crisis response is 73 million dollars. Approximately half of these funds will continue supporting humanitarian efforts – in all parts of Syria and in neighbouring countries – and the other half will be focused on strengthening the resilience of people and communities. These are projects that fall within the category sometimes referred to as “early recovery”. This has been a much-debated term during the past year but for Sweden’s part, we have been supporting such efforts since 2016. And we have done so while adhering to our bottom lines: to not channel funds through the Syrian regime and not support reconstruction until there is meaningful movement on UN Security Council resolution 2254.

The appalling humanitarian situation unfolding in Ukraine is a painful reminder of the experiences from Syria. The destruction, the blatant disregard for human life and for international humanitarian law and protection of civilians, the disinformation and victim-blaming – it all comes from a familiar playbook. The risk now is that Russia will abuse its position on the UN Security Council and further politicize the suffering of Syrians. I call on all present here today to join forces in urging the Council, and Russia in particular, to assume its responsibility this summer and renew the humanitarian cross-border mandate to north-west Syria. Millions of lives depend on it.

For peace, refugee returns and reconstruction to be sustainable, there also needs to be a political solution. We fully support the efforts of the UN Special Envoy, including to ensure the full and effective participation of women.

Equally important is accountability. We intend to strengthen our efforts to achieve accountability for the horrific crimes that have been, and continue to be committed, in Syria, including by continuing prosecution of perpetrators in Swedish courts. Fighting impunity and achieving justice for victims is fundamental in moving Syria towards sustainable peace and reconciliation.

Thank you.